News

News

ELECTION UPDATE: Ojai picks Stix for mayor, Francina for City Council; cannabis tax gets green light

web betsy 2490 edit

Photo submitted

Betsy Stix 

 

By Austin Widger, Ojai Valley News reporter

 

As of Nov. 5, the races for Ojai mayor, City Council District 4, and Measure G cannabis tax are all but over. The Ventura County Elections Division updated vote counts at 2 p.m. Nov. 5 and is scheduled to update them again Nov. 6.

Ojai mayor

In the race for mayor, newcomer Betsy Stix earned a resounding victory over Councilman William Weirick. With the latest voting update, Stix received 63.88 percent (2,258 votes) of the vote, compared with Weirick’s 36.12 percent (1,277 votes).

When asked about her victory, Stix said: “I felt deep gratitude. I want to acknowledge all the candidates who ran for office. It’s great to be a part of a community that is so willing to engage and give back. I am humbled by the enthusiasm and encouragement that I received from so many. Ojai is amazing! I am grateful to everyone who supported me during this campaign, including my campaign team that gave so much time and energy.”

Stix said she will work to continue the welcoming environment current Mayor Johnny Johnston has made for those who participate in city government.

 

 

web Suza Francina Bicycle Photo Let There Be Water copy

 Stix said her top three priorities are: “I look forward to building upon their great work by advocating for policy changes that genuinely move us closer to carbon neutral. I will encourage more action around in-town fire safety, including structure hardening, fuel reduction, and improving natural disaster communication and evacuation systems already in place. The fastest and most cost-effective way to provide many living spaces that people can truly afford is to better utilize what is already built in our community. I will work to create a better environment for those in Ojai who either want to rent a room or create an accessory dwelling unit in their home.”

Though Weirick did not win his campaign for mayor, he will continue to serve in his seat on the City Council for the two years remaining on his four-year term. He said: “(I) want to congratulate Betsy Stix on being the voters’ choice to lead the council policymaking team and to represent the city of Ojai as a whole over the next two years. My focus will be on bringing my perspective to public policy debates and frankly communicating on matters of civic concern. I deeply appreciate the many expressions of support and the myriad of committed community members from whom I constantly learn so much.”

Weirick told the Ojai Valley News his focus moving forward on the council will be improving the ongoing water issues, affordable housing, updating the general plan and the possible repurposing of the Ojai Unified School District Chaparral property.

 

 

Submitted photo

Councilwoman Suza Francina 

 

City Council District 4

The race for Ojai City Council District 4 was much closer, but it now appears that incumbent Suza Francina will beat out challenger Jeri Becker. 

As of the Nov. 5 vote counts, Francina garnered 54.27 percent of the vote (381 votes) compared with Becker’s 45.73 percent (321 votes).

Francina said: “I’m just happy, because I have so much work that I’m in the middle of that I want to continue working. If I hadn’t won, it would have felt like, you know, I was being fired. Because it’s a job. Being on the council is a job, and a responsibility like any other job, and also you get a tremendous education during the first (term). There’s always a learning curve, and I feel like I’m a much stronger councilwoman at this point. I really wanted to do another term, so I’m thrilled. I’m very happy about it.”

Some of the work Francina plans to continue is overseeing the Active Transportation Program demonstration project, updating the general plan, animal-keeping ordinance, and more.

Francina said: “From the very beginning, I’ve been interested in what goes on with the Chaparral property. … two years ago, Bill Weirick and I had a community visioning meeting. So all of that is still in the works. There are actually several affordable housing projects that have been in (the works) …, there are four affordable housing projects in the wings that will be going to the Planning Commission and before the City Council.”

Becker said running for City Council was a worthwhile endeavor and an interesting race as a first-time candidate. She said: “I’m glad that people seemed interested when I walked around and talked to people. That was really heartening. I liked that a lot that people were interested. I met a lot of really super people.”

When asked if she would consider running again in four years, Becker said she did not know, but maybe. “She (Francina) has certain skills and I bring others that I think right now would be really helpful to our city,” Becker said. “So we’ll see what the environment is like next time there’s an opportunity.”

Measure G cannabis tax

Finally, Measure G, the city of Ojai’s 3 percent general cannabis tax, passed easily. As of the Nov. 5 results, 69.90 percent (2,513 votes) of voters said yes on the measure, while just 30.10 percent (1,082 votes) said no.

Ojai City Manager James Vega said: “With the impacts of COVID, the city projects a $1.8 million to $2 million shortfall at this time, so, in the short term, the funding will help the city to continue to provide essential core services during this pandemic. The City Council has not made final decisions about potential long-term projects, but we recently discussed using a portion of Measure G funding to help build up our emergency reserves, which have been drained during the pandemic. These emergency reserves would help the city remain able to provide services if another emergency — such as fire, earthquake, or second wave of the pandemic — occurs.

 

The next Ventura County Elections Division vote count update will be Tuesday and Thursday afternoons through the 30-day canvassing period. Check the Elections Division for all the vote counts in Ventura County at:
https://recorder.countyofventura.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11//Summary-Report-2-Column_20201104003634620.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

Not a subscriber?  choose your subscription plan.